Electing Civil Court Judges

New York City residents who are involved in a non-criminal case with claims of $50,000 or less can find themselves in a Civil Court. There is a Civil Court in each of the five Boroughs. In Manhattan, there are 50 elected Civil Court judges. Many of these judges are assigned to family and criminal courts in other counties.

Civil Court judges are elected, similarly to any other elected officials. In Manhattan, the Democratic Party evaluates candidates via a judicial screening panel. While the only legal requirement to run for judge is to have been admitted to the New York Bar for at least 10 years, most candidates will not be endorsed by the County Democratic Party or local Democratic Clubs unless they have been approved by a screening panel. Anyone running for Civil Court must petition to get on the ballot. Winners of the primary become the party’s nominees and are listed on the general election ballot. 

Judges of the New York City Civil Court are each elected to ten-year terms, and are eligible to serve until December 31 of the year in which the judge reaches 70 years of age.

Some types of claims below $50,000 that end up in Civil Court are Landlord-Tenant Disputes, Family Law, Personal Injury Law, Contract Disputes, and Intellectual Property Disputes.  

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